Sheffield Hallam University has launched the UK’s first degree apprenticeship route to becoming a medical sonographer.
The new earn and learn route to a career in medical sonography is one of three new healthcare degree apprenticeships launching at the University this month.
Courses in dietetics and operating department practice will also see their first intake of apprentices, supporting alternative routes to a career in healthcare and addressing shortages in the NHS workforce.
By 2024, the NHS People Plan estimates that around 27,000 more allied health professionals (AHP) will be required, demanding a significant increase in student numbers.
The new apprenticeships have been designed in consultation with NHS trusts, private sector organisations and professional bodies and will enable employers to upskill their current workforce and support new employees into the careers in healthcare.
Apprentices will achieve a bachelor’s degree and those studying dietetics and operating department practice will become registered healthcare professionals.
Sheffield Hallam was one of the UK’s earliest adopters of degree apprenticeships in 2015, followed by the opening of the National Centre of Excellence for Degree Apprenticeships (NCEDA) at the University in 2018.
It was the first university in the UK to offer degree apprenticeships in physiotherapy and occupational therapy when they launched in 2019 and now offers one of the widest portfolios of degree apprenticeships in the country.
More than 250 degree apprentices are expected to start on allied health courses at Sheffield Hallam University in 2023.
Phil McVeigh is a second-year physiotherapy degree apprentice at Sheffield Hallam University. He was working as a physiotherapy technical instructor when the opportunity to study as a degree apprentice came up.
Phil said: “The physiotherapy apprenticeship is a great course and allows people currently in employment to undertake a degree level qualification that fits into your everyday life. Even with a demanding work and home life, the course is structured in such a way that it is manageable. I have no hesitation in recommending this course to others.
“I would advise anyone about to undertake an apprenticeship to plan as much as possible. This allows you to focus on studying and getting the best possible outcome – in my case, hopefully qualifying as a physiotherapist in summer 2024.”
Aimee France, Apprenticeship Lead for Allied Health Professions at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “We’re already seeing the impact our apprentices are making on the workforce in allied health professions and these new courses have the potential to continue to drive the workforce forward.
“The apprentices will already be working in a clinical setting and are comfortable in the environment. They also don’t need to wait until they graduate to put their skills into practice which is beneficial for them and their employer.”
Degree apprenticeships are an alternative earn and learn route to a degree qualification. They combine working with studying part-time at a university. Apprentices are employed throughout the programme and spend part of their time at university and the rest with their employer.